NP Boys Basketball

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 28, 2007

Late rally not enough for Cougars

By Brad Greer

For three quarters, Thursday’s matchup pitting the North Panola boys against Hernando was shaping up to look like the first time the two teams hooked up back on Nov.11 in a game won by the Tigers 83-52, but this was a little bit different.

Leading 60-45 with six minutes to play, the Tigers held off a furious North Panola rally to fend off the Cougars 78-71 in the Northwest Mississippi Expo basketball Classic on the campus of Senatobia High School.

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This loss set up an inner-county match with South Panola at 11:30 a.m. today.

Marico Young mounted North Panola’s comeback effort by scoring nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter as the five-foot-six inch senior guard was six-of-eight shooting from the floor in the second half.

Bruce Wilbourn’ s jumper in the paint with 3:58 remaining trimmed the Tigers lead to 63-52. Aldrick Russell then canned a three-pointer from the left corner at the 2:28 mark to spark a 12-3 Cougar run to make the score 63-57. Justycze Clark layup off a fast break gave Hernando some breathing room with a 72-63 lead with just over a minute to play in the game.

North Panola, (9-6) was not ready to throw in the towel just yet as Dexter Robertson connected on a three-pointer with 37 seconds remaining cut the Tiger lead to 74-68, but the Tigers hit four straight free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

Wilbourn led all scorers with 22 points while Robertson followed Young with 12. Russell contributed in the effort with eight points while Rodriquez Thomas added five, Donata Lark chipped in with three while Templeton Hardy and Cortez Hibbler collected two points each.

Clark led four Tigers in double figure scoring with 19 points followed by Adrian Miller with 16 and Jonathan Carpenter with 15 points. Jimmy Palmer added 14 for the winners.

North Panola head coach Chris Yancy said one of the keys to his club’s success must be their ability to get off to a quicker start.

“I told the guys we can not wait until the fourth quarter to start playing basketball. We’ve got to get off to a better start than we did today,” said the first-year head coach. “I do not know if it was being off during the (Christmas) holidays or what but we just did not start off sharp. We just need to start rebounding a little better and not trade baskets with teams and we will be okay.”

Yancy applauded the play of both Young and Wilbourn in the contest.

 “Bruce did a great job today in the middle against their big guys and Marico did a good job creating shots.”

The winner of the South Panola/North Panola match will play Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The loser will play at 11:30 a.m.